What will be the impact of ‘TripAdvisor’ reviews of hospitals?
An interesting study hit the headlines yesterday, which has found that patients are accurately predicting which hospitals have high death rates (Telegraph) in the form of TripAdvisor-style reviews.
The research by Imperial College London showed that the hospitals that achieved good patient ratings on the NHS Choices website had a five per cent lower death rate and an 11 per cent lower readmission rate. Meanwhile, cleanliness ratings were found to be a good indicator of the risks of contracting MRSA. The hospitals that scored well with patients for their hygiene standards had a 42 per cent lower rate of MRSA infections than those that were rated badly.
As medical negligence solicitors, it's no surprise to us that patients' reviews of standards at hospitals are a clear indicator of how safe they are. As service users, their insight on levels of care is the best possible measure of how well a hospital is performing. We frequently deal with cases of patient injury which could have been avoided had the concerns that were raised been listened to. While it is encouraging to see that government recognises this with the online feedback facility, we would urge it to ensure that the concerns of individuals on hospital wards are also taken seriously, and acted on appropriately.
Meanwhile, as the government is currently pushing through reforms to allow patients more choice about where they are treated, it will be interesting to see what impact will be felt on hospitals that score less well in patient feedback. For instance, if a patient requiring a hip replacement is given a choice about where they have their surgery, they are likely to opt for the hospital with the best track record. While better performing hospitals will attract funding and the best surgeons, the government should ensure that those at the other end of the scale do not continue to decline, and that good quality local services are available to all.